Washington, DC – Two suspects accused of assaulting U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) Officer Brian Sicknick during the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot have been arrested.
Officer Sicknick, 42, died at a hospital the day after the attack.
Federal investigators said 32-year-old Pennsylvania resident Julian Elie Khater and 39-year-old West Virginia resident George Pierre Tanios assaulted Officer Sicknick with an unknown chemical spray during the violent uprising, The Washington Post reported.
It is unknown whether or not the exposure to chemical spray led to Officer Sicknick’s death.
According to court documents, Officer Sicknick was one of many law enforcement officers standing behind a set of metal bicycle racks outside the Lower West Terrace of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, The Washington Post reported.
Video footage showed Khater telling Tanios to “give me that bear s—t” at 2:14 p.m. that day, according to court documents.
Roughly nine minutes later, the footage showed Khater spraying the substance into the faces of three USCP officers, to include Officer Sicknick, according to federal arrest papers.
All three officers were incapacitated and temporarily blinded for over 20 minutes as a result of being sprayed with the substance, according to charging documents.
One officer suffered from scarring beneath her eyes for several weeks after the attack, The Washington Post reported.
Tanios and Khater, who investigators said have known each other since they were kids, were taken into custody on March 14.
Tanios was arrested at his West Virginia home, while Khater was arrested as he stepped off of an airplane at New Jersey’s Newark Airport, according to the Huffington Post.
They’ve been charged with assaulting three law enforcement officers with a deadly weapon, civil disorder, and obstruction of a Congressional proceeding, among other charges.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray refused to disclose Officer Sicknick’s cause of death while testifying before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month.
“I certainly understand and respect and appreciate the keen interest in what happened to him — after all, he was here protecting all of you,” Director Wray said during the hearing, according to the New York Post.
“As soon as there is information that we can appropriately share, we want to be able to do that. But at the moment, the investigation is still ongoing,” he added.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) then asked the director if his refusal to disclose the fallen officer’s cause of death meant the FBI has “not determined” what killed him, according to the New York Post.
“That means we can’t yet disclose a cause of death at this stage,” Director Wray maintained.
Grassley asked the FBI director to confirm whether or not investigators know what caused Officer Sicknick’s death, but he held firm.
“I didn’t say that,” Director Wray said. “We’re not at a point where we can disclose or confirm the cause of death.”
Officer Sicknick collapsed at his division office after he was “injured while physically engaging with protesters” at the Capitol Building on Jan. 6, the USCP said in a press release at the time.
The department did not elaborate on the injuries he suffered, but two law enforcement officials allegedly claimed he was hit with a fire extinguisher as rioters stormed through the halls of Congress and lawmakers hid beneath their desks, The New York Times reported at the time.
Officer Sicknick was rushed to a local hospital, where his family learned he had a blood clot on his brain and had been placed on a ventilator, his brother, Craig Sicknick, told the Daily Beast.
The veteran officer remained hospitalized until his death at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 7, according to the USCP.
“Officer Brian D Sicknick passed away due to injuries sustained while on duty,” the USCP said at the time, according to the Daily Mail.
On Jan. 8, The New York Times reported that two law enforcement officials said that “pro-Trump supporters…overpowered Mr. Sicknick, 42, and struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher…With a bloody gash in his head, Mr. Sicknick was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support.”
The paper issued an “update” to the story eight days later, stating “new information” had emerged regarding Officer Sicknick’s death “that questions the initial cause…provided by officials close to the Capitol Police.”
DC Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services Chief of Communications Douglas Buchanan confirmed that Officer Sicknick was never “rushed to the hospital” from the U.S. Capitol, and said that he had returned to his division office after responding to the riot, the Daily Mail reported.
In February, federal investigators said they were struggling to build a murder case in connection with Officer Sicknick’s death.
The officer’s family said they heard from him after the riot. He said he was pepper-sprayed twice, but that he was otherwise fine, according to the paper.
As evidence against the allegations Officer Sicknick had been attacked with a fire extinguisher mounted, Democratic Impeachment Managers still pushed the narrative by citing the supposed incident as fact in pre-trial articles filed on Feb. 2, according to the Daily Mail.
Over two months after his death, the results of Officer Sicknick’s autopsy still have not been released, Yahoo News reported.
Officer Sicknick’s own mother recently told reporters her son was never beaten in the head during the riot, and that her family was told he died after suffering a stroke, the Daily Mail reported.
Gladys Sicknick, 74, was adamant her son had not been hit in his head with a fire extinguisher while responding to the riot, despite media reports to the contrary, the Daily Mail reported.
“He wasn’t hit on the head, no,” Gladys told the paper. “We think he had a stroke, but we don’t know anything for sure.”
“We’d love to know what happened,” she added.
Officer Sicknick’s family had begged for his death not to be politicized.
“Many details regarding Wednesday’s events and the direct causes of Brian’s injuries remain unknown and our family asks the public and the press to respect our wishes in not making Brian’s passing a political issue,” the family said in a statement on Jan. 8. “Please honor Brian’s life and service and respect our privacy while we move forward in doing the same. Brian is a hero and that is what we would like people to remember.”
The 12-and-one-half-year veteran of the department served in the Air National Guard prior to joining the USCP in 2008, his brother told the Daily Beast.
He also served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Desert Shield, his brother said.
Officer Sicknick was most recently assigned to the USCP First Responders Unit, the agency said in the press release.
“The entire USCP Department expresses its deepest sympathies to Officer Sicknick’s family and friends on their loss, and mourns the loss of a friend and colleague,” the USCP said at the time.